UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
TAMPA DIVISION

KENNAN G. DANDAR and
DANDAR & DANDAR, P.A.,

Plaintiffs,

v. Case No. 8:12-cv-2477-T-33EAJ

CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY FLAG
SERVICE ORGANIZATION, INC.,
F. WALLACE POPE, JR., JOHNSON
POPE BOKOR RUPPEL & BURNS LLP,
and DAVID MISCAVIGE,

Defendants.
_______________________________/

ORDER

This cause comes before the Court in consideration of
Defendants’ Motion for Sanctions (Doc. # 49), filed on
January 24, 2013. Plaintiffs failed to file a response in
opposition to the motion, and the time for Plaintiffs to do
so has expired. Nonetheless, for the reasons that follow,
the Motion is denied.
I. Background
In May of 2004, Plaintiffs Kennan Dandar and Dandar &
Dandar, P.A. entered into a settlement agreement with
Defendant Scientology. In March of 2009, in response to a
perceived breach of that agreement, Scientology filed a
motion to enforce the settlement agreement in the Circuit
Dandar et al v. Church of Scientology Flag Service Organization, Inc. et al Doc. 58
Dockets.Justia.com
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Court for the Sixth Judicial Circuit in and for Pinellas
County, Florida.
On November 26, 2012, after more than three years of
litigation involving Scientology’s motion to enforce the
settlement agreement, the state court held a hearing on the
amount of sanctions to be assessed against Dandar in light
of the breach. In anticipation of the impending hearing on
the amount of sanctions to be imposed against him, Dandar
filed the present action on October 31, 2012, asserting
claims for relief in accordance with 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Scientology characterizes Dandar’s Section 1983 action as
“a maniacal effort to have this Court prevent the state
circuit court from entering a final judgment for damages
against [him],” and accordingly filed the instant motion
for sanctions under 28 U.S.C. § 1927. (Doc. # 49 at 3).
II. Discussion
“Section 1927 provides that lawyers who multiply court
proceedings vexatiously may be assessed the excess ‘costs’
they create.” Roadway Exp., Inc. v. Piper, 447 U.S. 752,
757 (1980). Specifically, the statute states:
Any attorney or other person admitted to conduct
cases in any court of the United States or any
Territory thereof who so multiplies the
proceedings in any case unreasonably and
vexatiously may be required by the court to
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satisfy personally the excess costs, expenses,
and attorneys’ fees reasonably incurred because
of such conduct.

28 U.S.C. § 1927. “To warrant sanctions pursuant to §
1927, an attorney must (1) ‘engage in unreasonable and
vexatious conduct’; (2) ‘this conduct must multiply the
proceedings’; and (3) ‘the amount of the sanction cannot
exceed the costs occasioned by the objectionable conduct.’”
Young Apts., Inc. v. Town of Jupiter, No. 11-15618, 2013 WL
69215, at *13 (11th Cir. Jan. 7, 2013) (quoting Peer v.
Lewis, 606 F.3d 1306, 1314 (11th Cir. 2010)).
“An attorney multiplies the proceedings unreasonably
and vexatiously only when the attorney’s conduct is so
egregious that it is tantamount to bad faith, which turns
on the objective conduct of the attorney.” Town of
Jupiter, 2013 WL 69215, at *13 (internal quotations
omitted). “Bad faith is an objective standard that is
satisfied when an attorney knowingly or recklessly pursues
a frivolous claim or engages in litigation tactics that
needlessly obstruct the litigation of non-frivolous
claims.” Id. (internal quotation omitted).
Defendants complain that Dandar has “filed three
almost identical complaints alleging purported civil rights
claims against the Defendants[,] [and Dandar has] twice
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moved for an emergency temporary injunction on the same
grounds.” (Doc. # 49 at 6). To support their argument in
favor of imposing sanctions, Defendants reference Religious
Technology Center v. Liebreich, 98 F. App’x 979 (5th Cir.
2004), in which the Fifth Circuit commented that “the
Dandars’ continued engagement in improper motion practice
after repeated warnings by the district court was reckless
disregard of the duty they owed to the court. Such conduct
is unreasonable and vexatious beyond cavil, and therefore
warrants § 1927 sanctions.” Id. at 984.
However, the Court finds Dandar’s conduct in the
present matter distinguishable from Dandar’s apparent
engagement in “improper motion practice” in Liebreich. In
the instant case, Dandar has filed two amended complaints
(the second amended complaint filed with leave of Court),
and two motions for preliminary injunction. (Doc. ## 2,
24, 25, 45). The Court has issued no warning to Dandar
regarding any vexatious or unreasonable practice, and
although Dandar’s motions for preliminary injunction were
ultimately unsuccessful, the Court finds that Dandar’s
prosecution of this action has not constituted egregious
conduct tantamount to bad faith. The Court therefore
declines to award sanctions under Section 1927.
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Accordingly, it is
ORDERED, ADJUDGED, and DECREED:
Defendants’ Motion for Sanctions (Doc. # 49) is
DENIED.
DONE and ORDERED in Chambers in Tampa, Florida, this
15th day of February, 2013.




Copies: All Counsel of Record.

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